Ferguson refuses to throw in the towel

LONDON: Manchester United are fired up for one last do-or-die bid to wrest the English Premiership title from Chelsea when they go to the leaders' Stamford Bridge ground on April 29. 

If Chelsea earn at least a draw, they will retain their Premiership crown – delivering a particular slap in the face to United by lifting the trophy in front of them. 

However, a United win would take the title race to the last two games of the season, although the Blues would still need just one point to be sure of glory. 

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side grabbed a 2-1 win at Tottenham on Monday to prolong the title chase, insisted he had not abandoned hope. 

“We'll carry on and won't give up,” the Scot said. 

“As far as Chelsea are concerned, they're going to have to wait a bit, certainly, but the decider for them will be at the Bridge. 

“If we can win at Stamford Bridge, you never know. I don't think any supporter in the world would expect me to say: 'Well done Chelsea, you are the champions'. 

“It keeps the fans interested and keeps everybody at the club motivated and keeps the season bubbling away. 

“I can't surrender until it says that we can't win it.” 

United's win at White Hart Lane on Monday was inspired by England striker Wayne Rooney, whose two first-half goals took his tally for the season to 19. Jermaine Jenas pulled one back early in the second half but Spurs could not equalise. 

Ferguson's captain Gary Neville insisted the Red Devils would be going all-out for victory again on their trip to London. 

“We have to win that game. But we have to win every game, that's the way it's always been,” the skipper said. 

“We'd have liked to have put a little bit more pressure on them (Chelsea). 

“But they're consistent, they've done their job.” 

Should the Red Devils march out of west London victorious, they have two remaining fixtures at home, both of which they would expect to win. 

However, this was also the case before Friday's goalless draw at home to rock-bottom Sunderland, which put a huge dent in their title hopes. 

United face resurgent UEFA Cup and FA Cup semi-finalists Middlesbrough at their newly expanded Old Trafford ground on May 1, then close out the season against mid-table Charlton Athletic on May 7. 

At the start of March, Chelsea led the Premiership by 18 points but have watched the margin all but evaporate as United set off on an 11-game unbeaten league run, 10 of them victories. 

Tottenham boss Martin Jol called United a “great team” after watching them edge out his side, but said Chelsea were nonetheless the best side in England. 

Jol has a hugely important clash of his own to think about, as Spurs face bitter local rivals Arsenal in the last north London derby at the Gunners' Highbury stadium on Saturday. 

Arsenal kick off next season in their brand new, bigger Ashburton Grove stadium just around the corner. 

The match is a virtual play-off for the final Champions League qualifying spot, with Tottenham out to deliver a stinging blow to Arsenal's hopes of pinching fourth place in the Premiership. 

The Gunners are four points behind Spurs with four games left, one more than their rivals. 

The Dutch manager said his team was upbeat. 

“I think last year when we went over there, we had a lot of confidence,” he said. 

“We lost 1-0 and we made a mistake. Somebody pulled Michael Dawson out of the centre and then (goalscorer) Jose Antonio Reyes was going into the space so I don't think we will make that sort of mistake again. 

“At home, they are strong. But you never know.” 

Jol will have to make do without England centre-half Ledley King, who is out with a stress fracture to the fourth metatarsal bone in his left foot. 

However, Egyptian striker Mido may have fully recovered from a groin injury in time to take part. – AFP 

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